As a Research & Development (R&D) Director, you are typically responsible for ensuring that the organisation continually produces a steady stream of new and modified products that satisfy changing customer needs and business requirements. In many industries, technology and other developments are leading to rapid change to customer expectations and competitive forces. To survive and thrive in this environment, the R&D function must collaborate closely with the commercial functions to deeply understand the voice of the customer and the nature of the competitive environment. They must also leverage their technical know-how and work shoulder-to-shoulder with the rest of the business to launch commercially successful products, quickly and efficiently.
As the beating heart of innovation, the other leaders in the business will typically look to your function to help them deliver against unmet customer needs and enhance the customer experience, while continuously looking to reduce waste and ultimately product cost.
Ultimately, your success will often be judged on the impact that the products you develop have in the market place. Commercial success is however a lagging measure of performance that relies on;
- Clear alignment with the rest of the organisation on strategic priorities in terms of customer segments and product groups
- Effective strategic planning and execution processes to enable proactive responses to a changing competitive environment
- Close collaboration with the commercial functions to fully understand and clarify the voice of the customer in targeted market spaces
- Effective processes, governance and systems for retention and retrieval of organisational knowledge and intellectual property
- The availability and capacity of key assets and people that are essential to research and development activities
- Effective processes, governance and systems for effectively managing a project and handling technical and commercial risk
- Close collaboration with the Supply Chain and other key functions to manage all facets of a successful launch.
The most common challenges we typically identify are with an organisation’s inability to align their people, purpose, principles and processes to the pursuit of improving the customer experience, while relentlessly driving out waste.
In particular, we commonly find disconnects in:
- Developing a clear strategy that clearly articulates the product and customer segment priorities, allowing for effective resource allocation and strategic planning.
- Dealing with product and customer complexity. As organisations grow, the product portfolio typically expands, creating the potential for significant waste and complexity across a business’s operations. R&D play a critical role in helping to address this waste by phasing out loss making products and adopting practices that support standardisation, modularisation and economies of scale
- Transforming the New Product Development (NPD) and Innovation process to support enhancement of the customer experience and significant reduction in total waste. While most organisations have some form of Stage-Gate process for new product development, few have a lean and powerful process that repeatedly produces error free products, with minimal waste and a development lead time that helps to win new business. Along with the commercial benefits of having an effective NPD process, there is typically a significant opportunity to reduces wastes that have manifested themselves in other parts of the business, particularly in operations.
- Driving out waste from R&D activities. While R&D activities are obviously different to manufacturing, they often exhibit many of the same wastes. These can include poor demand and capacity management, breakdowns and changeover losses as well as quality issues from non-stable processes.
- Developing an effective process and culture in Project Management. Project Management is a key vehicle through which change happens. Speedy and accurate delivery of new or modified products requires effective project management process and behaviours across the organisation. When there is a gap in this capability, it is a common cause of failed product launches, customer complaints, excessive development lead times and high R&D costs.
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If you can identify with any of the issues above, why not contact us today to learn more about how Pico can help you to grow your business by enhancing the customer experience, while relentlessly driving out waste.